Safety is the number one concern around small children. If child
care takes place in a home, there are even more potentially dangerous
items and situations in the environment than are present in center-based
child care. All obvious dangers must be eliminated.
Family homecare providers must also protect children from each
other, particularly when there is a significant age difference.
For example, a running preschooler may not be aware of the baby
playing on the floor!
The Program for Infant and Toddler Caregivers (PITC) from WestEd
recommends a daily safety inspection. This includes, checking the
walls and ceilings for peeling paint or wallpaper, splintering baseboards
or molding and checking the floor for frayed carpet, bits of linoleum
or chipped tiles.
Bare floors should be dry and not so polished that someone can
slip. Carpets should be vacuumed daily. A bleach solution can be
used to sanitize most surfaces and materials.
A diaper table should have a three-inch raised edge to keep babies
from rolling off. Supplies, including the bleach solution, should
be stored in locked cabinets.
Climbing structures of two feet or less are for children 18 months
and younger. Three foot slides work well for 18-36 month old children.
PITC also recommends that you ask yourself these questions when
considering safety in an outdoor play area:
- Does anything have sharp edges?
- Is there anything that would be dangerous if a child put it
in her mouth?
- Do the children have access to unsafe pressure-treated lumber?
- Is the sand box clean, and is it covered at night?
- Is there standing water that could be hazardous?
Removing unsafe items from the environment reduces the time the
adult has to say “no” and offers more opportunities
for the child to explore the environment, safely.
Additional information on Health and Safety can be found in Young
Children, the Journal of the National Association for the Education
of Young Children, March 2004.
Assessing Young Children
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
defines assessment as a systematic procedure for obtaining information
from observation, interviews, portfolios, projects, tests, and other
sources that can be used to make judgments about children’s
In assessing children, we look to see what types of knowledge and
skills children have. What do they know? How do they reason? What
can they do? What can they create? What do they like?
Carefully gathered evidence is of little use unless it begins to
answer questions about how young children are developing and learning
and if programs are providing the most appropriate and effective
learning environments. (NAEYC, Young Children, January 2004 p. 17)
In the book, Six Simple Ways to Assess Young Children by Sue Y.
Gober, these methods are suggested:
- Developmental checklists
- Parent Interviews
- Scribbling, Writing and Drawing Samples
- Audio or video tapes
- Anecdotal records
To learn more about developmental screenings (defined as a brief
assessment procedure designed to identify children, who because
they might have a learning problem or disability, should receive
more extensive assessment), the book, Developmental Screening
in Early Childhood, A Guide by Samuel J. Meisels and Sally
Atkins-Burnett is a good resource.
Handwashing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent
the spread of germs! Insist on frequent, thorough handwashing for
both staff and children and insist on general cleanliness and sanitizing.
People touch their hands to their mouths, noses and eyes all day
long — usually without washing first. Each time they touch
their mucus membranes with contaminated hands, they inoculate their
bodies with germs they have picked up from the surfaces they have
Programs that care for children in diapers are especially at risk
because staff and children get feces on their hands. When infectious
stool gets on hands or objects, people to fail to wash before touching
their mouths or food swallow the germs.
Wash your hands properly and frequently.
- Use liquid soap and running water
- Rub your hands vigorously for at least 10 seconds
- Wash everywhere: backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, under
- Rinse well
- Dry hands with a paper towel
- Turn off water using a paper towel, not your clean hands.
- Help children learn to wash their hands, too.
Source: Healthy Young Children, A Manual for Programs,
by Susan S. Aronson, M.D.
Culturally Sensitive Care
Children learn and “idea system” from their parents
that speaks to the values of a group of people. This goes far beyond
art, music, style of dress, language or religious beliefs. It is
also “ways to behave” that are socially acceptable.
Children in all cultural communities learn valued skills and behaviors
through social interaction with parents and other primary caregivers.
Many differences in the learning styles and skills of children are
directly related to the early lessons of their home culture.
- Culture is learned.
- Culture is a characteristic of groups.
- Culture is a set of rules for behavior
- Individuals are embedded to different degrees with a culture.
- Cultures borrow and share rules
- Members of a cultural group may be proficient in a cultural
behavior but unable to describe the rules.
Child care providers may find that parents may have different ideas
(based on cultural expectations) particularly around toilet training,
feeding and sleeping. Caregivers often raise issues in responding
to a parent who asks for something to be done differently from that
of the child care program’s standard routine, especially when
the request is for something that seems unreasonable and difficult
to carry out.
Caregivers must find out how the parents view their child’s
care. They must observe, ask and communicatewell with parents. It’s
the key to providing the best care for each child.
Source: The Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers/WestEd, A
Guide to Culturally Sensitive Care.